Fair opens: Pigs and bunnies and cows… oh, my!
Dressed in his starched green-and-white 4-H uniform, six-year-old Caden Hollmer snuggled with his bunny Tuesday at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Not a stuffed animal, but a live Netherlands Dwarf.
“He’s very proud of his animal,” said his mother, Brenda Hollmer, who has a hutch of the critters. Caden’s two older brothers sat next to him on straw bales with rabbits in their laps.
Caden’s bunny, named Snowflake, is among hundreds of animals being shown starting at 10 a.m. today through Sunday at the Nevada County Fair, on McCourtney Road just west of Grass Valley.
And young as he is, Caden is among hundreds of county children who have worked hard all year to incubate eggs, raise calves, keep their goats healthy and train the animals for the showing and judging that culminate this week.
The discipline of raising and showing animals has built self confidence in the youngsters, Brenda Hollmer said.
“It takes a lot of work and responsibility raising these animals,” agreed Kimberly Granholm, a Penn Valley 4-H swine leader. Her daughter Erica, 12, raised a pig this year, and her son Kyle, 14 raised a steer with FFA at Nevada Union High School.
Children learn to clean, feed, walk and groom their farm animals.
“They usually get up early to feed them before school,” Granholm said.
And in the process, they learn to produce a quality product for consumers, Granholm said.
And the consumer was ever in mind at the fairgrounds Tuesday, as judges eyed future chops still on the hoof.
In a covered pen near Snowflake, 200-pound pigs squealed and snorted in defiance as boys and girls used a show stick to guide their animals around a pen.
A 208-pound white Yorkshire pig named Norbit plopped down into a bed of sawdust and began rooting around with his snout.
“He’s just really hot and overworked,” said Ceara Rice, 16, a FFA student at Nevada Union. This is her second year raising a pig for show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Rice likes raising pigs because of their personalities, she added.
And despite their destinies.
Norbit and other fine swine will be shown during Sunday’s Junior Livestock Auction. After that, he will be sent to a slaughterhouse and turned into bacon, sausage and pork chops.
“I’m O.K. with it. It doesn’t really bother me,” Rice said of Norbit’s fate.
For the Hollmer hutch, there was no worry over such potential conflict.
“Pigs go to market. These (rabbits) don’t. That’s kind of nice. They don’t have to say good-bye,” Brenda Hollmer said.
To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4231.
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